This is the trailer for A la poursuite de la paix - the French version of In Pursuit of Peace. This riveting 86-minute feature documentary film makes the case for unarmed civilian peacemaking and mediation as a response to violent international conflict.

We follow four Canadian peacemakers as they take us inside the drama of their work in some of the word's hottest conflict zones – land disputes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the civil war in South Sudan, IDP camps with displaced minorities in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq and stories of mediation in Darfur, Nepal and Aceh. As we follow our protagonists, we share their challenges and their hopes as they work to create alternative responses to war and violence.

The English version will be released in the spring of 2016.

         Mukesh1  On a hot, dusty, and unbearably humid day scores of people line up to receive humanitarian food aid. Malnourished children push and shove each other in their desperation to get to the food. A young boy repeatedly kicks another boy in his way. The boy, weakened by malnourishment, dies from his injuries. This is not a personal account, it’s a summary from the true testimony of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, as described in his biography called What is the What by Dave Eggers.

            In situations like these Nonviolent Peaceforce can act to protect vulnerable people before tragedy occurs. By providing unarmed protective presence during food aid distribution, our field staff ensures that food is distributed equitably, that the distribution does not cause further conflict, and that aid workers follow basic humanitarian principles.

            Last year, our newly elected Board Member and Vice Chair Dr. Mukesh Kapila wanted to see for himself how it is possible for our field staff to protect others using unarmed strategies. In August 2014, he reviewed our operations in South Sudan, and in November supporters in Minneapolis had the opportunity to meet Mukesh in person as he elaborated on his experiences visiting the South Sudan program.

Read more: Mukesh Kapila, Nonviolent Peaceforce Board Member and Vice Chair, Adviser on World Humanitarian...

Justin Trudeau with quote Justin Trudeau will become Canada's Prime Minister as a result of Monday’s elections. While Nonviolent Peaceforce is strictly nonpartisan, political leaders from various parts of the political spectrum, including five other former heads of state, have endorsed us.

Canada played a leading role in developing peacekeeping the 1950’s. They now can reassume that role in promoting unarmed peacekeeping and civilian protection.

 

“Unarmed civilian protection (UCP) is a method for the direct protection of civilians and violence reduction that has grown in practice and recognition. In the last few years, it has especially proven its effectiveness to protect women and girls (p. 153).”

Our work is a focus in Global Study on Women, Peace and Security, Transforming Justice, Securing Peace, launched yesterday at the UN (click here to read it).

The study, commissioned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon, commemorates the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Security Council’s groundbreaking resolution on women, peace and security (UNSCR 1325) by recommending ways forward including that the UN in collaboration with Member States (see p. 157):

Promote women’s empowerment and non-violent means of protection.

• Scale up their support to unarmed civilian protection (UCP) in conflict-affected countries, including working alongside peace operations.

The report further notes that women make up between 40-50% of deployed civilian protectors, a percentage much higher than in UN peacekeeping missions and specifically highlights NP’s work in South Sudan.

The 70th anniversary of the UN was ushered in by a crescendo of high level reports and initiatives. The UN Secretary-General appointed three high level panels to review and recommend changes to the UN peace operations, peace building architecture and Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. UN member countries and numerous global civil society groups also developed a set of sustainable development goals to serve as bench marks to guide the work of the UN over the next 15 years.

Read more: NP Work a Focus of Major UN Report

While engaging with communities has been a priority for peace operations since 2010, there is a significant gap between rhetoric and implementation. A greater effort needs to be made to ensure engagement with civilians is actually happening on the ground. A number of NGOs that work on protection of civilians, including FIDH, the Global Centre for R2P, IRC, World Vision, Oxfam, PAX, Refugees International and Nonviolent Peaceforce, issued a briefing note with their recommendations on how to operationalize community engagement for protection. While they are welcoming the mention of community engagement in the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action, they also want to encourage the UN to implement the necessary changes to ensure that peace operations effectively adopt a people-centred approach.

Learn more about the recommendations and concrete ways to do this by clicking here.

As an intern in the Nonviolent Peaceforce office in Minneapolis, Rachel Beecroft dreamed of being part of an NP field team. Now as Rotary Peace Fellow and graduate student at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, that dream will come true. She will join the NP Myanmar team for three months as she fulfills requirements for a degree a Master of International Relations majoring in Peace and Conflict Resolution. The Rotary Peace Center program emphasizes development of practical skills, including mediation and project development. The program explicitly explores the relationships between peacekeeping and peacemaking. Both of these fields involve not only what happens after a conflict, but also what happens before a conflict breaks out. Creating lasting peace requires developing a culture of peace, and in war-torn societies, entire generations know only violence. Changing those cultural norms requires a multi-pronged approach, and this program is helping her to develop and implement those multi-faceted solutions.

Read more: Intern's Dream Comes True

Four Congressional members of Congress have urged President Obama to prioritize unarmed civilian protection at the World Summit on Peacekeeping. Led by Representative Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, Representatives McCollum, Walz and Nolan signed the letter delivered to the White House on September 23rd.

The signers cite the President’s success with the nuclear arms treaty with Iran as laying the groundwork for further nonviolent actions to make the world a safer place.

Recognizing the growing problem of refugees, the members of Congress note that unarmed civilian protection (UCP) promotes peace and protects civilians.

"Groups practicing UCP actively protect civilians and prevent violence in conflict areas including South Sudan, Myanmar, Honduras, the Philippines, and Columbia. Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP), a nongovernmental organization started in Minnesota, has pioneered effective UCP
 methods."

President Obama will co-host the World Peacekeeping Summit on Monday, September 28th at the UN.

Read the complete letter signed by four members of Congress: here!

Goal 16 PictureOn September 21, International Day of Peace, a group of peacebuilding organizations from around the world issued the shared statement “Facing the Challenge of Peace”. As the world’s leaders will sign on to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we – peacebuilding organizations - consider that many of the issues addressed in the Agenda are heartening but more needs to be done. We must address the roots of violent conflict and instability, we must consider changing an international system that does too little to raise up the voices, needs and aspirations of the many rather than the interest of the few.

Click here and learn what changes need to take place and what we need to do differently.

Mel Duncan with Dr. Rima Salah, member of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations Mel Duncan with Dr. Rima Salah, member of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. Last October, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon selected a High-Level Independent Panel to review United Nations (UN) peace operations. The panel examined how the full range of UN peace operations can be harnessed to address the spread and intensity of conflict today.

Chaired by José Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate and Former President of Timor Leste, the panel strongly recommended unarmed approaches to protecting civilians-specifically recognizing unarmed civilian protection as practiced by Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP).

We need you to build the momentum.

On September 28th, U.S. President Obama will convene a Peacekeeping Summit with other world leaders at the United Nations.

You can get help get the message for unarmed strategies across. Tell President Obama that you want the Peacekeeping Summit to seriously consider the recommendations by the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. Advocate for unarmed civilian protection to be a prominent aspect of UN Peace Operations.

Read more: Write your message to the White House